Science, State, and Empire

in Predicting the Weather

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780226019680
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226019703 | DOI:
Science, State, and Empire

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This chapter concentrates on control and national identity that emerged in ideas about scientific prediction and examines the international dimensions of Victorian forecasting. This dimension involved not so much a comparison of British work with that of other European countries or of the United States, but rather a shift in focus to the empire. In the 1870s, meteorological science moved away from the vagaries of the British weather to India's intense but regular tropical conditions. By connecting rainfall, sunspots, and famine, meteorologists revived claims about the promise of forecasting. Their research on the cyclical patterns of rainfall and the management of the British Empire suggested how science and the state became mutually reinforcing models of rational order. Amid political debate over the future of the empire in the 1870s, meteorology provided a natural foundation for British imperialism. India, in turn, provided a new field in which to trace atmospheric laws and prove the relevance of science to the modern state.

Keywords: Victorian forecasting; meteorological science; British weather; tropical conditions; atmospheric laws; modern state; Indian weather

Chapter.  20183 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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